Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On Crispy

I've finally decided. My favorite flavor is crispy. I love browned bits, burnt ends, toasty toast, blistered pizza crust...well, you get the picture. So Saturday night, looking for something to serve with boudin blanc and a lovely little Frenchy salad of mache and endive, I resurrected an old favorite recipe that takes crispy to its most glorious extreme: Kate's crispy potatoes.

Kate Rowe and I worked together at La Varenne cooking school in Burgundy, France, about 5 years ago. It was a long summer, filled with endless meals, long days, elaborate cooking techniques and scarce personal time. One night, when another group of unexpected guests was invited to stay for dinner, Kate and I quickly whipped together a meal. Salad with cheese, probably, maybe a couple roast chickens, some artichokes with big bowls of melted butter--who knows. What I do remember, though, was the debut of Kate's Crispies. Halfway between home fries and frites, these potatoes are rich, deliciously brown, and very simple to prepare. I'll caution you now--2 pounds of russet potatoes is enough for 4 people. While you're eating them, you'll probably wish you had more, but trust me--just TRUST me--you shouldn't eat more than a half-pound.

To make Kate's Crispies:
Peel 2 pounds of russet potatoes and cut them into 1-in. cubes. Put them into a cast-iron skillet (10-12 inch) or a small roasting pan and add 3/4 cup of sunflower oil and 1/4 cup olive oil (or all olive oil, if you prefer). Start the pan on the top of the stove over medium-high heat. You want the oil to heat up quickly, so the potatoes start to gently fry. Once the oil and pan is nice and hot, transfer the pan to a 425 degree oven and bake (I probably should say "fry-bake"), stirring every 10-15 minutes, until they are very brown, and very crispy, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove potatoes from oil with a slotted spoon, sprinkle generously with salt and eat! Save the oil that remains in the pan for another frying or roasting project.

Try them tonight--and let me know how it goes!